Is The Beginning
Ludwig woke up.
The ceiling seemed awfully far away, before he realized he was in the living room. Then the ceiling was exactly where it was supposed to be.
Ludwig sat up.
Feliciano was sleeping, head and arms on the couch and the rest of him on the floor. He removed the blanket from himself and draped it over the Italian's shoulders.
"I am Ludwig."
And he was right. Two times over.
Italy mumbled something. Germany could not help but smile.
Austria smoothed Hungary's hair back from where she was slouched over in her chair. More gracefully than North Germany, who only had the wall keeping him from falling off the kitchen chair and hitting the floor.
Damn, he would never get used to North Germany. Prussia had been a much easier name to remember.
He heard a whine from the back door. Aster wanted back inside. Austria did not feel inclined to getting to his feet. He took another sip of his coffee.
He glanced up to see Ludwig standing in the doorway. He rose to his feet instantly. "Ludwig!" he exclaimed, albeit softly so as not to startle either Nation sleeping. Roderich moved across the floor as quickly as he could to stand in front of him. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I'm... fine," Ludwig shrugged. Roderich could sense the hesitation and knew something was wrong. No, not wrong. Just different.
He stood there looking straight into the eyes of the child, no Nation, he had raised and knew.
"Once. Sort of." The other shook his head. "I... remember some things. Enough to know, I suppose. Not everything, not even close... but enough."
He should not be accepting this with a heavy heart. Germany had been his friend. He should be glad that this was Germany. Well, when he remembered more he would be Germany. Ludwig had always been Germany.
"But..." Ludwig looked down, as Ludwig always did when embarrassed. Roderich found that he could not look at him either. "I vouldn't mint... I mean... I liked being... a child. Here."
Roderich found himself laughing. "You can always be a child here."
Ludwig hugged him. Roderich hugged him back.
Maybe it was being overly optimistic of him, but Austria liked to think that he had not lost either of them. This was just how Germany was when he could allow himself to smile.
He was his Ludwig.
"I still dink you're too young to be movin' in vith another man," Gilbert drawled. He watched as Ludwig continued packing from where he was sitting on the bed. Actually, he was supposed to be helping, but Gilbert was a firm believer in making people do their own work. Except for his awesome self, of course.
"Ant I dthink your opinion only matters vhen I ask for it," Ludwig retorted. "Are you just going to sit dere?"
"Ja." Gilbert nodded. Ludwig threw a shirt in his face.
This was his brother. Gilbert had nearly cried when Ludwig told him. Not that he had not already known and not that he was really going to cry. Just... that same relieved feeling when some people cried. He was guessing. Because he did not cry. Ever. Though he managed to embarrass Ludwig somehow when the younger Nation told him not to be so emotional about it. Gilbert was never 'so emotional'!
Gilbert started stuffing the clothes into the box in front of him. Right up to the point he heard Ludwig's exasperated sigh.
"No! You don't just stuff it in dere, you fold it–" Ludwig stopped himself. "Vhy am I bothering asking you to fold?"
"No clue," Gilbert smirked as Ludwig started doing it himself. "Your hair's getting in your face. Gonna cut it again?"
"Feliciano said he'll to it," Ludwig said absently. Gilbert choked on air.
"You trust Feliciano vith scissors?"
"Ja." Ludwig lowered his head so as to hide his grin, but Gilbert saw it perfectly.
"Near your head?"
Gilbert stifled his laugh. He did not know about that, if it was a bad idea, but if it was Ludwig would either find out soon, or maybe the danger would help him remember more. "So... remember us getting drunk off our faces at all?" Gilbert asked slyly. Ludwig slowed up for a moment, thinking about it. Then he grimaced.
"Oh, do I," Ludwig sighed, beginning to fold again.
"Ve should do that."
Gilbert grinned. "You can't resist it, Wessi! Might as vell immerse yourself in it!"
"Don't let Roderich or Elizaveta hear you say dat." Ludwig shook his head. Gilbert stood up, walked over to the door, moved Blackie out of the way and opened it.
"Ludwig and I are going to immerse ourselves in beer!" he shouted down the stairs. And as he expected, he heard the sound of Elizaveta's heels. The back of Gilbert's head was hit by a pair of Ludwig's gloves.
"You're an idiot," Ludwig snickered.
Antonio found that he was still tired. Was that why he had given in? Maybe if he was less tired he would have put up more of a fight when the other three had left, when Feliciano had left with them. Antonio did not know what to do. Ludwig was not good for Feliciano.
But who was he to deny them each other? Just another Nation. Nations were not good people to judge. Each Nation was forced to think of what was best for themselves first. He was just as capable of hurting Feliciano. Not that he could ever hurt him as much as Germany did.
Love tended to make everything worse. Or better. Antonio knew this very personally.
"Are you... sure you don't want any help?" Antonio asked from the doorway. Feliciano looked up at him from where he was piling together the few things in this household which were his.
"Lovino would blame you for my leaving and stuff..." Feliciano shrugged. "I'm okay."
"Okay." Antonio responded, continuing to watch as Feliciano stuffed his things into a box. Lovino was likely to get very irritated for a while. Not that he usually was not, but it was always different when it came to his brother.
Lovino was adorable, but Antonio sometimes wished he knew what he was doing wrong when it came to the Italian.
"¿Puedes nunca me perdone?"
"Huh?" Feliciano looked back up at him.
"I'm sorry. I really thought it was best for you."
Feliciano never hesitated to smile. Antonio realized that was exactly how he has always tried to be. Real smiles, not fake ones.
"I know, Antonio! Thanks. You'll tell Lovino I'll come over for lunch tomorrow?"
"Sure thing." Antonio smiled. Feliciano hugged him before he took his box outside. Antonio returned back to the family room, where Lovino was lounging on the couch, flipping through channels. He sat down next to him and easily wrapped his arms around him.
"Hey!" Lovino protested, pushing at him. "What the hell?"
"You're so cute," Antonio spoke into his hair. Lovino groaned. "How're you feeling?"
"Tired," Lovino grumbled as he stopped struggling. Antonio smiled.
Just like me, Lovi. Just like me.
"Then you should be sleeping, that's Boss Spain's advice!"
"Then 'Boss Spain' shouldn't squish me." Lovino rolled his eyes. Antonio kissed his forehead. It only took the both of them five minutes to fall asleep.
Aster saw him first. Japan was not certain whether he should be relieved or not that neither of the dogs growled at him or gave him much notice at all except for the initial first glance.
Italy had told him what happened. Japan knew he had to confront this eventually. He had not known it would include Ludwig remembering who he was. Kiku was not certain he wanted to confront Ludwig if Ludwig knew what he had done.
The guilt gnawed at him along with the rest of his pain.
It took him a moment to respond, but he did, turning around to face him. It seemed to take him a moment to realize how to react. Still, it was not the reaction Japan had been expecting. He had expected a cold rejection. He had not been expecting an awkward glance and a nod, as if Ludwig was not certain how to react.
Not certain? Did he not remember what Japan had done?
"Japan. I take it Italy told you?"
"As much as I could make out of his words," Japan agreed. Ludwig suddenly looked as if he were trying not to laugh.
"Ja, he started rambling vhen I tried to tell him... I doubt he unterstood vhat he vas saying." Ludwig shook his head. Kiku tried to keep a straight face, but he could imagine it too well.
"What... if I may ask, do you remember?"
Ludwig sighed, looking down as he shuffled his feet. "Bits ant pieces of a lot of things. I can fill in some of the gaps... more soon, for Roderich is finally going to let me learn some history. Now dat I remember some of it, of course. Not really someding he can hide from me anymore."
Kiku rose an eyebrow. "I never questioned Austria's method of raising you."
"Dank you. Because if you had cared for me instead of him, dis vould be very awkward now."
"More than now?"
Ludwig stayed quiet for a moment before responding. "I know... vhat happened to Berlitz."
That was what he had been waiting for. The blame should come next. Japan had had lots of time to prepare himself for this, he had come to see Ludwig for this reason. An apology would be stupid by this point. But he knew he still had to give it.
"So am I." Ludwig looked back at the other two dogs, the other two who looked unchanged from that night. Kiku had passed the three on the way in. He should have known. "Berlitz vas a good girl. Even if she ignored my orders. I should hafe expected it."
That monotone was so reminiscent of the exact way Germany used to speak, Kiku could not think of any words to say.
"I hope you von't ask for forgiveness."
He instantly shook his head. Despite the fact Ludwig was not looking at him, Kiku could tell he guessed the gesture.
Ludwig finally looked at him. He appeared to study him for a while before giving him a nod.
"Den noding's changed between us."
Kiku was so relieved he nearly had to sit down. But Ludwig hugged him and he managed to stay on his feet.
It was still awkward. And Japan knew things had changed between them. But Ludwig was smiling again and Kiku decided not all of the changes were for the worse.
"Oh! You've grown up so quickly!" She engulfed him in another hug because she could and because she would not be able to on a daily basis anymore. "And I mean that. If you don't stop growing not even Feliciano's going to be able to feed you."
"De black hole?" Ludwig asked with false shock. "He's de one who eats everyding."
"Which means you can't have two of you in one house eating away at the foundations." Elizaveta giggled at Ludwig's face. As she had gotten the whole story about their cleaning the house, she could just imagine the horrors which were likely to assault him living here as he remembered the wretched state North Italy's house had been in.
He would get used to it. And no amount of remembering was going to prepare him for living with Feliciano again. Elizaveta giggled. She was going to have to come over often~
"What's that?" she pointed at the folder he had stuffed under his arm. Ludwig looked down at it thoughtfully, then pulled a face.
"Roderich's schedule. Er... my schedule. Vhen Roderich vants me to show up for lessons."
Elizaveta laughed, taking it and looking through it. "You're joking!" She said that though she had the evidence in her hands. She said that though she could imagine it very well.
"As you can see," Ludwig waved absently at the papers. "Though he's set up more piano lessons den anyding else... but ve've known vhere his priorities lay all along."
She handed it back with a sigh. "You're moving out. You know we don't control your schedule anymore."
"No, no." Ludwig shook his head. "I don't mind."
Of course he did not, it was a schedule. But he could still make a face at it and Elizaveta knew that no matter what happened next, Ludwig would be all right.
She pulled him into another hug to keep her face from his sight as she tried to regain her calm. No crying in front of him! That would be unfair... She heard Roderich walk up behind her and so pulled back from Ludwig again.
"Does that look acceptable to you?" Roderich asked instantly. Elizaveta scowled and poked him in the arm.
"He is barely out of the house! Let him settle down first!"
"It's fine, it's fine!" Ludwig responded quickly, whether about to laugh or sincerely concerned she could not immediately tell. So... not too much different from when he had begun to react after Japan had given them him.
Only one year. And this was the end of it.
"Den... I'll be seeing you on Friday," Ludwig looked back down at Roderich's printed schedule to check his words. Roderich nodded slowly.
Both men just stood there, looking back at each other. Some of her tears spilled over and Elizaveta let out a strangled exclamation.
"Oh, you men!" she pulled them both into a hug, causing both of them to protest initially, but not for long. "If you need anything, you have our number!"
"And." Roderich took a step back, pulling something out of his pocket. "Your cell phone."
"Heh heh..." Ludwig grinned sheepishly as he took it. "Danks. I know. Danks."
Aster let out a bark as both she and Blackie went to the front door.
"Feliciano's here," Roderich commented unnecessarily. Elizaveta wiped the tears from her face. How long would it be before she was the concerned parent until she was the concerned parent and a creepy stalker?
Oh, Ludwig could only mind as much as he did before~!
"Here we are!"
The house should not have looked that much different than it did before, but it did. Before it was a hideaway, a place where they would meet. Now it was home. For both of them. The only place he had ever been truly happy. At least, before. Now he had plenty of places he could remember being happy at. But out of all of them, he preferred this one.
This was how things were supposed to be.
"I meant to get you someding for your birthday..." Ludwig mentioned. It was Feliciano's birthday the next day, but with everything that had just happened it seemed to have slipped from most people's radar.
"Ludwig," Feliciano stared at him with a look which almost looked as if Feliciano thought he had said something really stupid. "You did. Don't be silly!"
Ludwig could not think of what present he could have possibly given him without noticing, but decided not to ask. He would try and figure out something to do tomorrow, not try and convince Feliciano he had not done anything yet.
Feliciano opened the door and Ludwig felt some familiarity with the thought he would have to lecture Feliciano about locking the front door when no one was home.
"I guess I'll be sleeping on the couch for a vhile," Ludwig said absently as he walked in. It almost looked like a new place. A new place from his new perspective. "Elizaveta vouldn't let me take my bed..."
"That's okay! We have mine!"
Ludwig spluttered, trying to think of the appropriate response but coming up with nothing. Feliciano smiled, walking back over to him and getting up on his tip toes, sudden panic coming to his face.
"Vhat's wrong?" Ludwig questioned, immediately concerned.
"You're too tall!" Feliciano complained. Ludwig looked down at him and laughed, bending over slightly to kiss him. Feliciano wrapped his arms around him in reciprocation.
This might not be easy, but Ludwig was certain this was how life should be.
Bunt, bunt, bunt sind alle meine Kleider...
Ludwig smiled into Feliciano's hair. "Mein Schatz ist ein Maler."
"¿Puedes nunca me perdone?" = "Can you ever forgive me?"
"Mein Schatz ist ein Maler" = "My love is a painter."
Hungary really can scare me at times. Still love her, but dear lord... Both the voice of reason and a complete freak at the same time.
One month and ninety one pages. I am happy with it.
Some may not like how this turned out (I dunno), but I knew where it was going the entire time. And not in the 'I had the ending written like this' way of JK Rowling, but in the 'I knew everything that was going to happen and just had to write it out' way of ME when I am basing it off of a roleplay between DF and I. Thank you for understanding.
I have to say this because people kept bringing up the subject... I never meant to make the English speaking accent from the German characters seem insulting. I know some people liked my attempt, others thought it was annoying and others did not care, but I must put my foot down at being told it was offensive.
1.) I can understand if people think it is annoying. You are reading an English fanfic and you people are expecting it to be in English. I happen to be American though and we trash the English language all the time. If I do so, I try and do it at least consistently so that you all can read it.
2.) It might be inaccurate and I may be following a formula, but this was based on my attempt in trying to type different pronunciations, based from how some German students that went to my school last year spoke. I am not an idiot, I know Austrians speak German. The reason Austria did not follow this was because I was basing it on Germans. I was raised with American English and British English. I went to Canada and heard Canadian English and there is already a huge difference between those three things. I know there is a difference even when people speak the same language. I was not going to breach into an Austrian accent because I had no frame of reference.
3.) If this is offensive, my trying to understand how someone who's native tongue is not English, then so be it. I am not a linguist. I am but a naïve child in the world. As I have learned not be be insulted when people call my trombone a trumpet, I can hope for a little bit of understanding from other people, especially as this is fanfiction.
Ah, the person I would have loved to tell this to did not leave a signed review and stopped reading. But I suppose I wanted ask the rest of you this: would you prefer me not writing the accent in future endeavours? I can understand if it is annoying to have to translate. I will leave it up to you people to decide. Thank you for listening to my rant. I apologize if it sounded angry. I must admit I am happy for a literate, unhappy reviewer, even if I am saddened I can bother the literate people as well as the illiterate.
Meanwhile, on to the rest of my end-story spiel!
A special shout out to my continuous reviewers... you all know how to make an author feel loved! EmoLollipop, crimson-obsidian-rose, Canadino, Anime Dutchess, I Spazz With Pizzazz, WhimsicalShmoo, Anastasie Rossi, The Illustrious Tama, Hispanic Tenshi, Tanya Tsuki, gust-rider, Albinokitten, spider wench, Pictomancer-Murasaki, mangospoons, CheshireCatGrin, and everyone else who has reviewed only once or twice, and all of those who had this on review and alerts.
Special thanks to Rinael for all of the German I was able to insert into the story and the language lessons I was given and to the others who gave corrections. I am glad to have native speakers be able to perfect my attempts at foreign language.
And in this thanks, I give you all an omake. Because I love you. And apparently I love your suffering. You have been warned, read at your own risk.
The rain fit his mood perfectly. Why was it always that rain fit the mood, but not the situation? He would give anything for the rain clouds to leave, so that it would not be so hard to see, to look, to find the Nation he had been spending all of his time looking for.
At least Germany was all right. One thing was good. Japan wished him all of the happiness in the world.
Japan had been surprised when England walked to his house, asking to join him. He had not known England could walk, could speak again. Japan was more than overjoyed to say yes. Another set of legs, another pair of eyes.
To find America.
Funny thing, how neither of them doubted he was still alive. It seemed impossible, but everyone else had accepted it. Accepted it because they did not want to have to face America after what had happened.
"Do you think we are getting closer?" England breathed in deep the cold night air. Japan looked at the empty streets of Salt Lake City. It was silent.
"We always are, England. We will find him soon."
It was the same thing Japan had been telling himself for more than a year, but now it seemed more likely. They would find America. If he was alive, they would find him. If he was alive.
This is not for me, Alfred. Let me find you if doing so would be best for you.
Japan wondered if he should pray to the God that Alfred believed so faithfully in up until the end. He looked down at the cell phone he had pulled from his pocket. A key chain attached – red, white, and blue.
Wrapped about it, a necklace. A plain and simple cross. One last gift.
One Nation under God.
He decided it would not be too horrible to try.
I have plenty more things to write with this storyline. How many people would want to read a little something named 'Recovering Francis'? It will explain more before I write the sequel (for you people who want to know about America's fate). Or the prequel for that matter (for the people who want to know how any of this happened in the first place). But let me not get ahead of myself.
Though I really do want to write the part where the laughter from Chapter Seventeen shows up. But that is the prequel and me really getting ahead of myself.
Thanks for sticking around,